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Historic Structures of

Lowell, Indiana

Commercial Avenue

Photos by Tim Arends

Primarily a rural community, Lowell sprouted in the late 19th century in the middle of miles of farmland. Named after the more famous town in Massachusetts, Lowell was formally platted in 1853 but didn't really begin growing until the arrival of the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago Railroad ended its isolation in 1880. The town's early industry consisted of a dam and sawmill and later, a small brick-making operation taking advantage of the area's rich, clay-based soil. Two early pioneering a entrepreneurs in Lowell were Melvin Halsted and O. E. Haskins.

Lowell's commercial district suffered a devastating fire in October 1898, but was rebuilt in the few years following. Lowell today boasts several important early 20th century buildings in its downtown district and several buildings that date back to the 1800s.

Like all American communities, even small ones, Lowell has its modern sprawl and strip of McDonald's, Burger King's and Walgreens. However, the town has been fortunate to have a viable and sustained downtown district, even during a period when many other rural communities saw a decline. Lowell also has ready access to major highways that connect it to the rest of northern Lake County, Indiana and even Chicago.

Lowell has an enlightened attitude toward historic preservation. The Lowell Main Street Association was formed to get the downtown area recognized for its historic significance. Lowell applied for the area to be listed both on the National Register of Historic Places and in the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures. The association realized that having the downtown area on both registers gives the property prestige and publicity and also protects it from damaging state and federal construction projects. Most importantly, it permits investment tax credits for improvements of historic income-producing buildings.

Daylene Welty, co-chair of the old Main Street Association, is a shop owner on East Commercial Avenue and an enthusiastic advocate of historic recognition. "Being on the registry is a wonderful recognition," she is quoted as saying in a March 18th, 2002 Post-Tribune article. "You can still get a feel for the building's original construction, and Lowell has the best collection I've seen. There's really no gaps in the historic integrity," she said. The Main Street Association contracted with a consultant to help with the application process.

An important thing to understand about historic recognition is that if a building owner wants to change his building completely there are no restrictions in being listed on the National Register of Historic Places against doing so; he just will not receive tax credits. In order to be eligible for the credits, the work must be purely restorative and follow guidelines set forth by the Historic landmarks Foundation of Indiana.

Historic Structures of Lowell, Indiana - Commercial Ave.

Commercial Ave., Lowell's Main St., is still a hub of commercial activity


istoric Structures of Lowell, Indiana

Storefront Building/Apartments

509 Main


c. 1880

8-flat Apartment Building


istoric Structures of Lowell, Indiana - 3-Creeks Monument

3-Creeks Monument

"Dedicated 1905 in honor of those who served in the Civil, Mexican and Spanish-American Wars and the war of 1812 by the women of Tri-Creek Lowell Women's Club, 1972"


Structures of Lowell, Indiana - Bacon House

Bacon House

427 Main

Cast iron fence in front


c. 1865


Lowell Indiana Town Hall

Lowell Chamber of Commerce Visitor's Center

Formerly Lowell Town Hall and, for awhile, the Lowell police station



Historic Structures of Lowell, Indiana

Storefront Building

Stone plaque: "Lowell Lodge KP No. 300")


Historic Structures of Lowell, Indiana - Terra Cotta close-up

Terra Cotta close-up

308 Main

(Now a dentist's office)


Historic Structures of Lowell, Indiana - Lowell Lodge Building

Lowell Lodge Building

One of three former Lodge buildings on the same side of the street in downtown Lowell


Lowell, Indiana Commercial Avenue

Another view of Commercial Ave.


Lowell, Indiana Commercial Avenue

The stone marker at the top of this building reads "BANK." According to Richard C. Schmal Lowell Historian, "the building was built in 1900 as a bank; the restaurant there now uses the old vault for a table or two--the old burglar alarm is still near the large window in the front."


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